Fall19 Makes Continuous Planning Simple, Fast, and Beautiful

Fall19 Makes Continuous Planning Simple, Fast, and Beautiful

The best software doesn’t feel like software. It helps you get your job done without getting in the way, it lets you work more quickly while generating better results, and it’s easy to use with a functional, logical, and intuitive structure.

Our engineers, designers, and product teams constantly strive to create solutions that help finance professionals, and the entire business, be more successful in their jobs. We want our customers to have an experience that’s dramatically better than what they faced before they became customers. Our product teams are always considering not just the feature or function, but how people will actually use it, how long it will take them to accomplish a goal, and how much they’ll actually enjoy the whole experience. In other words, we strive to make everything about our solution simple, fast, and beautiful.

This mantra—simple, fast, and beautiful—is how we continue to give our customers a better experience. A key part of that experience is the benefit Planful provides to Finance as they become faster and more agile in their planning and decision cycles, elevate the financial IQ of the company, and evolve into the strategic core of their organizations. But there’s more to it than just the interaction with the product. These concepts touch every part of your customer experience, from speeding up sales cycles, to developing easy and intuitive pricing, to simplifying customer support, to giving customers more reasons to remain customers for life.

Our latest product release, Fall19, hits all of these points, and more. All of the many advancements in Fall19 were designed and developed to advance our simple, fast, beautiful theme. Customers will experience this throughout the platform.

Here are just a few examples of how Fall19 improvements will improve how your work gets done:

  • Build dynamic plans and with more formatting control even with your most complex data sets, so you can react to changes as they happen and navigate a confident path forward 
  • Easily create and adjust permissions across entire teams or organizations with just one action, so you can quickly get your key business users engaged in the process. 
  • Focus on the right data with faster, easier, and more customized reports in Spotlight for Office, so you have accurate and insightful data at your fingertips in the perfect format.
  • Work faster with a more intuitive navigation ribbon in Spotlight for Excel, so you can get your work done faster.
  • Simplify processes with more flexibility and control over workflow updates, so it’s easier to keep the entire team focused and aligned on key tasks and deadlines.
  • Ease audits with faster generation of detailed security and permission reports, so your auditors can quickly validate your internal controls are compliant.

We’re all being pushed to work faster while being more strategic and effective. The pace of economic change is accelerating, market disruptions are increasing, and customers are demanding more. Our solutions give Finance a Continuous Planning platform that enables faster and more iterative planning, execution, close, and analysis cycles. We know that companies do better when they plan continuously, when their teams have a higher financial IQ, and when finance asserts an active role in organizational strategy. That changes how you work, lets you focus on strategic initiatives that are more enjoyable and impactful, and even improves your day-to-day life by eliminating the tedium and frustration of manual work. It also puts your company in a position to grow, innovate, and win markets. And that’s good for everyone – customers, employees, shareholders, and economies.

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Continuous Planning – Structure for Finance, Flexibility for the Business

Continuous Planning – Structure for Finance, Flexibility for the Business

Planning is an essential part of every business. Marketing managers plan how lead generation campaigns fit within their broader pipeline-building goals. Sales managers plan for territory performance, sales rep quotas, and productivity capacities to help meet quarterly revenue targets. The director of operations plans supply, production, and logistics to ensure customer demands are met. And the executive team builds out plans for headcount adjustments, resource and budget needs, and the strategic direction taken to achieve broader company and investor objectives.

Behind all of this dynamic planning lies finance, who must take all of the bits and pieces of information these individuals and teams use separately and bring them all together to build structured corporate financial plans and reports. While sales, marketing, operations, and other operational teams require flexibility to build bespoke plans with tailored user experiences, on-demand data access, and high-frequency touch points, finance needs highly accurate, repeatable, and structured plans and reports to meet the requirements of their audiences. While these planning needs might seem in stark contrast to each other, they’re really two sides of the same coin. Both are interrelated and codependent on each other, and both are critically important to supporting the overall strategic goals of the company.

High-Frequency Cycles, High Engagement

Continuous planning is a vision for finance and business leadership that drives faster, more agile, and more iterative planning and decision cycles. It elevates the financial IQ of the organization so that everyone is engaged in the planning and decision-making process in a more meaningful way. That means plans are more accurate, insights and course-corrections are more frequent, and actions are more immediate. This puts the organization in a position to be more competitive, more innovative, and more prosperous – and finance is the strategic advisor at the heart of it all.

Easy and Fast

A continuous planning platform is the vehicle to take you on this journey. A strong platform can (1) easily integrate disconnected data from disparate operational systems and provide a trusted single source of truth, (2) give finance the structure, accuracy, and productivity they need, and (3) give business users the planning flexibility, tailored user interfaces and experiences, and on-demand data access that they desire.

Lucky for you, that platform is already here.

Finance deserves to be the strategic core of every organization. They deserve to be able to make better decisions that benefit their customers, employees, shareholders, and economies. We know that companies do better when they plan continuously, when their teams have a higher financial IQ, and when finance asserts an active role in organizational strategy.

Let us help you move toward a vision of continuous planning, ease the structured planning efforts on finance, and improve the dynamic planning efforts of everyone so that the entire organization can thrive.

Sign up for the Weekly Continuous Planning Demo

EVERY THURSDAY AT 12:00 PM ET / 9:00 AM PT

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A Platform for Every Dynamic Plan Your Business Needs

A Platform for Every Dynamic Plan Your Business Needs

You know what keeps finance up at night? Errors, inaccuracies, variables, unknowns, noncompliance — anything that falls outside of their highly-organized financial and regulatory requirements. That’s because finance is fundamentally structured. Financial planning is built around general ledgers, accounts, journal entries, cost centers, debits and credits. And finance uses those constructs to deliver even more structured outputs, like P&L’s, balance sheets and cash flow statements.

The structure of these items rarely, if ever, changes and is highly consistent even across industries. An income statement prepared for a global manufacturing conglomerate is very similar to one prepared for a local retailer. What’s more, these structures only require infrequent, periodic updates, usually quarterly or monthly.

Now contrast that need for structure and control with the flexibility and data update frequency desired by everyone outside of finance. They want to create dynamic plans that work for them, for their business, and in a format they understand. These plans are as unique as the people creating them, are customized for bespoke business use-cases, activities, and goals, and can change on a whim. They also require data from various operational systems, and which often need to be updated daily (if not more).

In other words, the dynamic planning needs of the business can’t be restricted by the structured rigidity required by finance. But they also can’t continue to rely on slow, disconnected, error-prone spreadsheets. They need speed, collaboration, data access, workflow, and the flexibility to build dynamic plans that accurately represent their business — but it all needs to connect back to the structured world of corporate financial planning.

Dynamic Planning Tailored to Every Need

For dynamic planning, the best word that describes what the business needs is “bespoke”. That’s a fancy word for customized or tailored, but it fits well because every business user wants a dynamic plan to fit their exact needs. Just like a tailor builds a suit for an individual customer, dynamic plans and data models need to be infinitely customizable for different business functions, processes, and use-cases.

The dynamic planning interface also needs to be customizable. Some teams like charts, others like tables of information, others want to flip between the two. A dynamic planning platform has to offer a blank slate that’s not only easy to use, but is highly customizable and enables teams to create unlimited variations of how they consume, interact with, and present their data. Maybe executive teams want to see a highly visual representation of different acquisition plans for the next year, and they want to easily change between scenarios to evaluate different acquisition strategies. A VP of marketing might prefer to visualize conversion rates and lead trends in charts, whereas a VP of sales might need a combination of graphs and tables of numbers. The point is, everyone’s dynamic planning needs are different.

Dynamic plans also require flexibility around data access and data refresh frequency. Business users need to update their plans and models with data from a variety of systems, and in many cases they need it refreshed daily. For example, maybe the VP of Sales wants to look at intradaily changes in pipeline as she plans territory quota allocations for next month, or in revenue forecasts during the last few days of the month to ensure the revenue target is met. Users can’t be tasked with downloading data from multiple systems, converting or formatting it for their needs, and uploading it into a separate system manually. That’s wasted time and effort that results in missed opportunities.

Finally, dynamic plans have a lot of variability in the frequency of user interactions with those plans.  For example, Sales has high-frequency touchpoints with their models during month-end and quarter-end closes when they’re trying to pull different levers to hit the revenue target. Whereas Marketing is more deeply involved with their dynamic plans before the quarter even starts, making sure sales has enough pipeline to cover their quotas and forecasts.

Structured & Dynamic Planning: Two Sides of the Same Coin

As you can see, the nature, timing, and frequency of dynamic planning varies quite about from structured planning. Dynamic planning is called dynamic for a reason: because the purpose or need or usage is constantly changing. But that doesn’t mean that one is more important than the other, or that either can exist in a silo.

We believe finance should be strategic advisors to the business. In order to do that, they need the financial and operational insights to do their job, which also requires empowering and elevating the financial IQ of the business so that everyone is collaborating in planning and decision cycles in more meaningful ways. Even as the structured planning needs of finance differ greatly from the dynamic planning needs of the business, the two need to work harmoniously together as one seamless process because they are two sides of the same coin. They support the same strategic goals.

You need a platform with the flexibility, interface, and data access required for today’s dynamic planning needs, while also providing the structure and control needed by FP&A. This is how you move closer to a vision of Continuous Planning. And we can help get you there.

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